Floating Prison

Trip Start Aug 06, 2011
Trip End Oct 06, 2013

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Where I stayed
Lutheran Shipping Freighter "Rita"

Flag of Papua New Guinea  ,
Sunday, August 21, 2011

After days on the Sepik River there's no way I was going back to the Airport Lodge in Wewak to clean up for our trip to Madang so we stayed at the Talio Lodge. The enterprising dude who owned this facility had pimped out a number of shipping containers that you would normally find dockside or on an ocean traveling freighter. Never having slept in a shipping container before this seemed to be something of a must-do. The attached restaurant (made from a much bigger shipping container) even served a blue slushee drink which sealed the deal for me.

You could fly to Madang via Port Moresby but we had heard that there was a 'freighter' that worked the north coast of PNG that was going to Madang the next day. Never having traveled via a freighter before this seemed to be calling our names so we booked passage. It turns out that the ship was less a freighter (although a ton of produce and livestock was unceremoniously shoved into the cargo holds) and more of a floating men's prison complete with security guards (only a handful of women were courageous enough to make the journey). We had booked the Tourist Class section but I think the only difference was some extra space versus the cheek-by-jowel overcrowding that was going on down below. The trusty crew had long since given up on cleaning the cells between sailings- there was a garbage can but it seemed to be for the exclusive use of the beetle nut spitters- everything else went on the deck or into the ocean. There was a small section set aside for TV viewing (with a steady diet of some of the more violent American B war movies I have ever seen- just what we needed to get the crowd riled up). The rest of the deck was filled with bunk beds that were arranged in a way that would ensure you really got to know your neighbours. DH almost immediately curled into a fetal position and stayed that way for the entire 18 hour journey- she claimed it was sea sickness but I suspect she spent the whole time contemplating why she kept following me into these situations. We both longed for the comforts of the Airport Lodge.

All was forgotten as we bobbed and rolled our way into Madang. It actually seemed to be a noticeably less threatening town with substantially less razor wire and steel gates- not quite Fiji but pretty good for PNG. One of the dock security guards seemed to take pity on us as we were looking lost and worn out, and he arranged to have a couple of his buddies drive us over to the Madang Resort where the check-in girl also took pity on us (just how bad did we look after our night in the floating prison??) and gave us a free room upgrade. We're on a roll.
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doe on

One of these times Vic, Deb will put you behind the bars of a ship prison!!

Tracy B. on

Wow! What incredible experiences you two are enjoying! Stay healthy and keep your posts coming. I look forward to reading them. Cheers!

Doug & Elaine on

Well, it's not hair shirts and self-flagellation - but it's pretty close to that!

Love, D&E

hammy564 on

Wow, the pictures are breathtaking as usual. Keep them coming!! Stay safe and have the time of your lives.

Martin on

Vic and Deb, great posting as always. Riveting and hilarious. Stay safe and keep 'em coming!

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